An Attorney Offering Smart, Strategic Defense Against Serious Drug Crime Charges
While public attitudes about drug use may be changing, criminal statutes are not always keeping pace. Like many states, Tennessee has harsh drug laws that can severely punish even nonviolent offenders. If you’ve been charged with a drug offense, the help of an experienced attorney is critical. I am Chelsea Nicholson, and I’ve been defending the rights and freedoms of clients in the Nashville area for more than 16 years.
My impeccable record of securing acquittals and favorable plea deals has earned me the respect of local judges and prosecutors. And as a solo female attorney in a largely male-dominated field, I am no stranger to defying obstacles and expectations. I work tirelessly for my clients, and I will do the same for you.
Drug Scheduling And How It Impacts Charges
The federal government regulates many types of controlled substances. Tennessee has its own schedules that largely mirror federal classifications.
Tennessee’s drug schedules are as follows:
- Schedule I includes heroin, peyote and psychedelics (such as LSD)
- Schedule II includes opiates, methamphetamines, amphetamines and cocaine
- Schedule III includes ketamine, testosterone and anabolic steroids
- Schedule IV includes brand name and generic Klonopin, Valium, Xanax and some other sedatives
- Schedule V includes medicines with low dosages of cocaine and opium
- Schedule VI includes marijuana
- Schedule VII consists only of butyl nitrate
The classification of the drugs involved will impact the severity of the charges and potential penalties. Generally, offenses involving Schedule I and Schedule II drugs are considered more serious and prosecuted more aggressively than others. While marijuana is still banned in Tennessee, it is only classified as a Schedule VI drug. (Marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug at the federal level.)
Understanding The Various Types Of Drug Charges
There are several types of offenses for which someone can be potentially charged in Tennessee, including:
- Simple possession: Someone may be charged with simple possession if they have a small quantity of a controlled substance on their person – ostensibly for personal use – but do not have enough to warrant more serious charges. A first offense will generally be charged as a Class A misdemeanor and can result in fines of up to $2,500 and up to one year of jail time. A second offense will be charged as a Class E felony and can lead to fines of up to $3,000 and up to six years of jail time.
- Possession with intent: If someone has a substantial amount of a controlled substance and other paraphernalia that suggests they intend to distribute the drugs, they may face “possession with intent” charges. Possession of small bags, scales, cash and other tools typically used to facilitate drug sales, in addition to the drugs themselves, can lead prosecutors to pursue these charges. Keep in mind that a sale does not actually have to take place. Prosecutors need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused party intended to sell the drugs. Possession with intent is a felony offense and a conviction could result in multiple years of incarceration. The specifics and severity of the consequences will depend on the classification of the controlled substances, the quantity involved and any prior criminal history.
- Sale of a controlled substance: These charges can be pursued when law enforcement witnesses a sale of a controlled substance or participates in the transaction via an undercover officer. The sale of a controlled substance is always a felony in Tennessee, no matter the type or quantity of the drug. Potential consequences for convictions will depend on the classification of the drug, where the sale took place, how much of the drug was sold and any prior criminal history.
- Drug trafficking and conspiracy: Someone participates in drug “trafficking” if they are involved in the production, transportation, distribution and/or sale of controlled substances. Someone may also be charged with drug “conspiracy” if they agree to carry out a drug trafficking scheme with one or more other parties. Mandatory minimum penalties apply to these cases, and convictions will result in unavoidable incarceration, exorbitant fines and protracted periods of probation. Federal trafficking charges could be pursued if prosecutors believe drug trafficking activity crossed state lines. Other factors, including where drugs were regularly produced and sold as well as what controlled substances were involved, will also influence sentencing.
- Drug manufacturing: Drug manufacturing covers any situation where someone facilitates the manufacturing of synthetic controlled substances, such as methamphetamines or participates in the finishing processes for cultivated or grown products, such as marijuana. In either situation, manufacturing charges have a one-year minimum prison sentence if convicted. Someone can face these charges even if they had no intent to distribute and only planned to use the resulting substances recreationally. Convictions can also lead to exorbitant fines, mandatory community service, probation and other penalties.
Some drug offenses are more serious than others, but even minor drug convictions can lead to jail time and hefty fines. Therefore, it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer in any drug case.
Discuss Your Charges With Me During A Free Case Evaluation
When it comes to defending Nashville, Tennessee, and surrounding counties, the easy choice is Chelsea Nicholson, Attorney at Law. To take advantage of a free initial consultation, call me today at 615-913-3932 or submit an online contact form. Once retained, I accept payment via credit card, Square, Cash App and Venmo.